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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Governor Blagojevich signs new law reducing idling from diesel-engine vehicles

Governor Rod Blagojevich today signed House Bill 4782 into law, which prevents stationary diesel vehicles of more than 8,000 pounds from idling for more than 10 minutes in the Chicagoland area and in the St Louis Metro-East Region.

The law applies to vehicles operating in areas that do not meet federal air quality standards. In the Chicago area, this includes Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties, as well as Aux Sable and Goose Lake Townships in Grundy County and Oswego Township in Kendall County. The affected areas in metropolitan East St. Louis include Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

House Bill 4782 was sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines) and Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston). It provides exemptions from the idling limits when the outdoor air temperature is below 32 degrees or above 80 degrees. Other exemptions are granted to account for emergencies, traffic congestion, loading/unloading, when drivers are sleeping in a sleeper berth, and certain other situations. A violator could be fined $50 for a first offense and $150 for a second or subsequent offense within any 12-month period.

"Clean air is essential to our quality of life here," said Gov. Blagojevich. "I would like to thank Rep. Elaine Nekritz and Sen. Jeff Schoenberg for spearheading this important effort to reduce unhealthy diesel exhaust that leads to poor air quality and contributes to asthma and other respiratory ailments. This bill will improve public health by helping all of us breathe easier."

The USEPA concluded that diesel emissions contribute to excessive fine particulate matter levels, which harm public health. Owners/operators of diesel-powered vehicles used to believe that idling is necessary to ensure that their engines will restart. Newer technologies introduced over the past several years allow diesel engines to be turned off and restarted without any difficulties.

"The greatest gift we can leave future generations is clean air," said IEPA Director Doug Scott. "This legislation builds on the Governor's commitment to clean air initiatives such as the Illinois Clean School Bus Program, to provide a healthier environment by improving the air quality in local communities."

Gov. Blagojevich praised the Illinois Environmental Council, American Lung Association and the Sierra Club, and the Illinois Trucking Association for their support of the bill.

"Toxic emissions are damaging our health and the quality of our environment. This anti-idling legislation will help to reduce soot and air toxins that cause adverse health effects such as lung damage, respiratory problems and cancer," said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs, American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago.

"Diesel exhaust effects the health of our children. This new law helps to reduce pollution from diesel vehicles," said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. "Enforcing these idling limits in Illinois will help to reduce the exhaust our children inhale helping to make our children healthier."

"Asthma and other lung diseases are reaching epidemic proportions in many regions in Illinois," said Rep. Nekritz. "This initiative will help to reduce soot pollution and improve air quality for millions of our citizens."

"By limiting the time trucks and other large vehicles are allowed to sit idle, we will significantly reduce carbon emissions and will help preserve the air quality and our environment," Sen. Schoenberg said. "This new law will also help reduce asthma and other related health problems and will undoubtedly save lives in the long run."

House Bill 4782 is effective July 1, 2006.

Gov. Blagojevich also signed Senate Bill 2878 into law, which provides that the Secretary of State (SOS) may not renew the vehicle registration of any vehicle owner who fails to comply with vehicle emissions testing requirements.

Senate Bill 2878 was sponsored by Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago). It eliminates the driver's license suspension enforcement mechanism in the current program and replaces it with a vehicle registration denial system. This would preclude a driver being arrested for a suspended driver's license.

"This change in public policy will ensure that residents are not inadvertently arrested for not getting their emissions checked while increasing the protection of the environment. This bill provides a penalty for the car and not the driver which makes good public policy for Illinois," said Rep. Tryon.

"Illinois is the only state in the country that goes to the drastic measure of suspending a driver's license for not having a vehicle tested. When you're driving on the road, and for whatever reason a trooper pulls you over, the last thing you need is to have your driver's license show-up as suspended," Sen. Sandoval said. "That could put an end to your vacation in a real hurry. We need to balance the requirement of compliance with common sense. That's exactly what my bill addresses."

The Illinois vehicle emissions test checks whether a vehicle's emission control system is working properly. Vehicles that are not properly maintained or that have malfunctioning emission control systems often exceed these standards.

SB2878 requires vehicles that fail the emissions test be repaired prior to being registered with the Secretary of State.

Senate Bill 2878 is effective immediately.

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